Rats: Life Cycle, Health Impact, and Control Measures

Life Cycle

While rats in captivity can live for three years or more, wild rats in urban environments typically have a much shorter lifespan, ranging from five to twelve months. As prolific breeders, rats can quickly establish large populations if left unchecked. To effectively control rodent populations, it is crucial to eliminate their access to food, water, and spaces that enable them to breed and thrive.

Health Impact

 Rodents pose significant health risks to humans through their feces and urine, which can contaminate food and living spaces. Exposure to rodent droppings can lead to various gastrointestinal diseases, such as E-coli infections, and respiratory illnesses like Hantavirus. Throughout history, rat fleas have played a notorious role in the transmission of deadly diseases, including the Plague and Murine typhus.

Rodent Control in Your Home: To minimize the presence of rodents in your home and protect your family's health, it is essential to implement effective rodent control measures. Visit our "Tips for Home Rodent Control" page [link here] to learn practical strategies for preventing and eliminating rodent infestations in your living space.

By understanding the life cycle and health impacts of rats, and taking proactive steps to control their populations, we can create safer and healthier environments for our communities.

Tips for Home Rodent Control

Rats can contaminate or destroy human food. Because rats are prolific breeders, rodent control measures must include the elimination of food, water and spaces necessary for them to carry on the breeding process.      

Suggested steps include:

  • Maintain Clean Properties and Closed Food and Trash Storage. Inspect regularly for signs of rodent activity. Keep trash cans tightly covered and lawns and yards free from debris. Pet food, cans without tight fitting lids, bird seed and food scraps left outside can encourage rat breeding. Never put household garbage or food scraps in compost piles.
  • Cut off their water supply. Dump pails, unused flower pots, toys or equipment in which water can accumulate (standing water also provides a breeding area for mosquitos).
  • Protect your home. Close holes in building foundations, under steps, sidewalks, or porches.
  • Tidy Outdoor Eating. Clean outside eating areas and outdoor cooking equipment, including around bird feeders and barbecue pits. Greasy residue build up can attract rodents.
  • Practice Rodent Control. When you see a rat, rat run, or rat burrow, take action immediately. The problem won’t just go away. Fill in the burrow to see if it is reopened, indicating an on going infestation. You should take measures to exterminate the existing population. Many bait station or trap products are available at local hardware and lawn and garden stores. You may wish to utilize a certified professional pest control operator. Just remember, any abatement must be accompanied by a continuing effort on your part to use The Rat Control Tips.   

Frequently Asked Questions

Cats will kill an occasional rat or mouse, however, they can not manage populations of rodents.  In fact, when neighborhood cats are fed outdoors, the rodent populations actually grow because of the increased availability of nutritious food.  

1-800-222-1222 is the telephone number for every poison center in the United States. This number is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to talk to a poison expert, ask questions about a poison or about poison prevention, or call in the case of a poison emergency.

1-800-222-1222 is the the national telephone number for poison emergencies. It connects to a network of 57 poison centers around the country. Calls will be routed according to the area code and exchange of the phone number from which the call is placed. Depending on the phone carrier, cell phone users may reach either the poison center in the area where they are located when placing the call, or in the cell phone area code. Either poison center can assist.

Callers who need local assistance but reach the poison center back home, can ask the the "at home" poison center to coordinate with the poison center at their current location.